‘Merlin’ 5.3: ‘The Death Song Of Uther Pendragon’ review

Camelot must come before all else – even you.

A change in pace from the initial two parter as we go from high action to emotional suspense and take a break from Morgana’s plans for domination. Arthur faces not only the spirit of his father but his disappointment in his abilities as ruler of Camelot which Uther wants to reclaim; Seems there’s too many leaders and not enough chiefs in the Pendragon family.

When Arthur and Merlin hear an old women screaming about to be burned at the stake, Arthur gallantly saves her, the old lady is dying but as gratitude for his kindness she gifts him with an enchanted horn that can summon dead spirits. Her kindness sets off a chain of events, Arthur still grieving his father’s loss decides this is his chance to see his father again and goes to the Stones of Nemeton (aka Stone Henge) and uses it to pass to the spirit world coming face to face with his father and former King – Uther Pendragon

If you thought Uther was cruel alive then Anthony Head‘s brilliantly callous and merciless portrayal of the former King is chilling in comparison; Dissapointed that his son has chosen to go against his teachings by knighting ‘commoners’ and marrying a servant girl Uther warns his son that he must correct his mistakes believing Arthur to be a weak ruler. Of course we the audience know Arthur to be a more fair and compassionate king. But Uther wants the kingdom to be led on fear not trust. Arthur accidentally sets his fathers spirit free who sets about making his feelings clear by haunting the castle and harming those he wants out of Camelot.

This episode could very easily have slipped into a ghostly caricature, but the performances by Anthony Head, Bradley James and Colin Morgan were levelled just right to keep this an emotional haunting tale rather than a silly ghost chase. The cinematography in this episode sets the scene wonderfully and should be applauded for keeping the atmosphere alive through the episode.

This episode is near enough a two hander between Arthur and Merlin, Gwen features very little and poor Angel Coulby gets very few lines to say yet again. Plaudits though to the writers for giving us another Tom Hopper shirtless scene, shallow as it is, keep it up. However as much as the audience enjoys the banter between Arthur and Merlin I feel this series so far has relied too heavily on their characters, it would be nice to see Arthur and Merlin interact with other characters. Arthur and Gwen especially; Gaius (Richard Wilson) is also starting to look a little redundant now Merlin’s powers are growing.

No movement on the story arc more of a filler/thriller episode of the week but non the less in quality. Merlin standing up to Uther revealing his sorcery a definite highlight. The conviction when he said “I was born with it” with such emotion was powerfully but beautifully played by Colin Morgan.

So far the series is shaping up well, still hoping for more ensemble interactions to come but an enjoyable 45 minutes. Bring on next weeks episode.